We all know cooking at home is a healthier choice than choosing a takeaway or dining out. However, it’s important to remember that recipes are created more for their texture and flavour first and health second. To make it easier for you to cook more healthfully, here are a few tips that you can use in a variety of recipes.
1. Reduce the Amount of Fats and Oils
For many recipes, it’s easy to simply reduce the amount of fat or oil used to make cooking easier. Non-stick cookware means you need little or no fat when cooking on the hob. Greasing baking dishes is often unnecessary as well, but you may have to experiment a little.
2. Replace Fats and Oils in Cakes
For fats and oils used for baking cakes and muffins, you can often substitute them with apple purée. For cookies, aim to replace about ½ the oil with purée. You can even aim for a more healthful impact by using a highly nutritious sweet potato purée as a fat and oil substitute.
3. Substitute Saturated Fats
If a recipe calls for saturated fats like butter or even lard, replace it with vegetable or olive oil. Of course, this won’t always work in recipes that call for the creaming of butter. In those cases, you might try margarine or simply reduce the amount of butter.
4. Replace Eggs with Eggs
In baking, you can usually replace 1 egg with 2 egg yolks for the same desired result, but with less cholesterol.
5. Reduce White Flour
Try replacing at least half the white flour in a recipe with whole wheat. Many recipes will work with a complete replacement, so experiment a little. Your health is at stake.
6. Not So Sweet
Many sweet recipes are sweeter than they need to be. Don’t be shy about reducing the sugars. Definitely do this where sweeteners are often added after cooking. For example, there is no reason pancake or waffle batter needs a lot of sugar when syrup, fruit and other sweet items are added afterwards.
7. Lower or Eliminate Salt
To salt or not to salt? In savoury foods, salt is usually not necessary. For baked goods, while many may say otherwise, it’s not always necessary either. One exception is baked goods using yeast. Salt slows down the rising process and produces better texture, so it is likely necessary, but you can try reducing the amount of salt used.
8. Low Fat Dairy
Try lower-fat dairy products in your recipes. Instead of heavy cream, use half and half. Instead of whole or 2% milk, use skimmed milk. The same goes for sour cream, yoghurt and cheeses. Just make sure to read the label for quality ingredients as lower-quality products tend to add undesirable ingredients and chemicals to make their low-fat varieties more palatable.
Overall, it’s important to try things out. The more you rework recipes and learn from your successes and even the failures, the easier it becomes to modify recipes on the fly.